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Subject: Re: [boost] Interest in an LLVM library?
From: Felipe Magno de Almeida (felipe.m.almeida_at_[hidden])
Date: 2015-11-20 22:44:42

I'd really be interested in that. In boost or anywhere else.

On Nov 18, 2015 2:35 AM, "Andy Jost" <Andrew.Jost_at_[hidden]> wrote:

> Is there interest in an LLVM library? My motivation is to simplify the
> dynamic creation of functions, modules, and programs by defining an EDSL
> modeled after the C language. LLVM provides an API based exclusively on
> function calls that is verbose and difficult to use. The EDSL is more
> expressive and easier to use. (This may remind some people of Boost.Python
> and indeed these libraries are similar in motivation.)
> The scope of this proposal is limited. The proposed library does not
> compile, link, optimize, save, or load anything, for example, since the
> LLVM API is suitable for that. Also, it may not support obscure features,
> even if they seem to be within its purview, since one can always make
> direct calls to the LLVM API.
> I have written about 6500 lines of prototype code in the context of
> another project (a compiler for the language Curry, if anyone is
> interested). It is not a complete solution, but is by no means trivial,
> either. I'll discuss that next, but since the discussion is somewhat
> lengthy, let me first explain what I'm looking for by sending this. I
> think this EDSL would make a good Boost library. If others agree, then the
> next step is to review the design. I need second opinions and help from
> more knowledgeable people to improve the design. There are a few places in
> particular where I think a redesign is necessary. After that, I'm happy to
> implement the final library (and would gladly accept help, if anyone is
> interested).
> Now, I'll show a few examples and provide links to the prototype code.
> First, here's how to create a module and put it in scope:
> module const example_module("example");
> scope _ = example_module;
> The scope object sets the insertion point for types, functions, and global
> variables.
> We can create a type as follows:
> type i32 = int_(32);
> i32 is a 32-bit integer. It is easy to build more complex types, e.g.,
> i32[2] is an array type, *i32 is a pointer type, and i32(i32,i32) is a
> function type. An expression like i32(42) produces a constexpr. As you
> might guess at this point, the prototype makes heavy use of SFINAE. I've
> gone to a lot of effort to make this work with everything I can think of,
> particularly multi-dimensional arrays and initializer_lists. So, an
> expression like (i32[3][2])({{1,2,3},{4,5,6}}) works! (Note: i32[3][2] is
> the C++ type int32_t[2][3] because that's the only sensible way to
> interpret successive calls to operator[]).
> We can create a struct from a sequence of types like this:
> type foo = struct_("foo", {i32, *i32});
> Or, we can leave out the sequence to get an opaque struct.
> A function prototype can be created as follows:
> function const f = extern_(i32(i32), "f", {"i"});
> This function, f, takes an i32 (named "i") and returns an i32. The
> function is placed in example_module, since the code appears in its scope.
> There are two other linkage-specifying functions: static_ and inline_.
> extern_ and static_ are also used to create global variables (i.e., if the
> type is not a function). To define the body, we create another scope:
> {
> scope _ = f;
> // code for f.
> }
> To understand this, we have to discuss scopes in more depth. There are
> three nested levels of scope: the current module, the current function, and
> the current basic block. The code above sets the current function to f and
> the current basic block to f's entry point. Generally speaking, within a
> function body we write statements that generate instructions. Those
> instructions are inserted into the current function at the end of the
> current basic block. To define the body, we can declare values and operate
> on them. For example:
> value i = arg("i");
> Here, "arg" is a special function that fetches the named function
> parameter. We can add instructions to f using operators or special
> methods. For example:
> value j = i + 1;
> return_(j);
> Branches manipulate the current basic block. Here's an if statement:
> label true_path, false_path;
> if_(i, true_path, false_path);
> {
> scope _ = true_path;
> // code for true.
> }
> /* else */
> {
> scope _ = false_path;
> // code for false.
> }
> // new basic block here.
> This generates instructions to test i, take the appropriate branch, and
> then continue to a new basic block in the right places (which depends on
> whether the paths terminate with a branch instruction). It also updates
> the scope so that statements following if_() are inserted into the new
> basic block. Believe me when I say it is not trivial to do this with the
> LLVM API. Although it is sometimes necessary to pre-declare labels as
> shown above, we can usually employ C++11 lambdas to simplify the encoding:
> if_(i
> , []{ /* code for true */}
> , []{ /* code for false */ }
> );
> The prototype code can be found under
> Also, there are many examples under
> Other parts
> of the Sprite-3 project are unrelated to this proposal. A good example to
> start with generates the Fibonacci numbers (
> Here's the interesting part:
> // Create a new module and associate it with this lexical scope.
> module const fib_module("fib");
> scope _ = fib_module;
> // Declare types.
> auto const char_ = types::char_();
> auto const i32 = types::int_(32);
> auto const i64 = types::int_(64);
> // Declare external functions.
> auto const printf = extern_(i32(*char_, dots), "printf");
> // Define the @fib function.
> auto const fib = extern_(i64(i64), "fib", {"n"});
> {
> scope _ = fib;
> value n = arg("n");
> if_(n <(signed_) (2), []{return_(1);});
> return_(fib(n-2) + fib(n-1));
> }
> // Define the @main function.
> auto const main = extern_(i32(), "main");
> {
> scope _ = main;
> value const x = fib(5);
> printf("fib(5)=%d\n", x);
> return_(0);
> }
> After this code runs, fib_module contains an intermediate representation
> of the program. The LLVM API can be used to save that to disk, compile it
> to assembly, link in the C library (to get printf), or JIT compile any of
> the functions, among other things.
> Thanks to everyone who made it this far :) I'm looking forward to your
> feedback.
> -Andy
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